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Priest barred after 1994 incident with 16-year-old

16 April 2021

Church of England/James Atkinson

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A BISHOP’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the diocese of Sheffield has ruled that the Revd Graeme Rainey be prohibited from exercising his office as a priest for eight years.

The prohibition comes after an admission of a single occasion of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old boy, “AB”, in the summer of 1994, when Mr Rainey was aged 27 and serving his title. A further allegation of an ongoing sexual relationship into the autumn of that year was dismissed by agreement.

AB told his mother in 2007, but made no formal complaint of abuse until 2017, when he contacted the NSPCC and the police were informed. No prosecution followed, nor was any formal barring decision made.

Mr Rainey, however, resigned from his post as head of boarding and designated safeguarding lead at an independent school. He had been working in education since leaving his first parish in 1996.

The tribunal took into account Mr Rainey’s admission of guilt, as well as the fact that they were judging events on a single day, “with no evidence of repetition in any other context in the last, now, 27 years”.

None the less, the tribunal ruled: “In engaging in sexual contact as he did, in our judgment he unacceptably crossed an impermissible physical, emotional, psychological and sexual boundary with someone under 18, a child, with whom he was in a pastoral relationship of responsibility and to whom he plainly owed a duty of care and protection.

“He allowed friendship to deteriorate, wholly inappropriately, into romantic attachment and then, exploiting AB’s feelings, immaturity and confusion, indulged his desires physically in a context where AB’s wellbeing and safety plainly demanded care and protection, not sexual interference.

“This was, in our judgment, a plain, even gross, betrayal of ministerial and personal responsibility.”

There was no question of removal from office, since Mr Rainey had not held a church post nor even permission to officiate in more than a decade. The judgment states: “In the loss of his last employment he has, without doubt, paid a heavy price for his historic wrongdoing. We were told that, though not barred, he now intended to seek work which did not necessitate contact with children or vulnerable adults.”

In addition to the eight-year prohibition, Mr Rainey’s name would be entered on the Archbishops’ list.

The tribunal expressed its regret that it had taken three years to conclude the Clergy Discipline Measure process, causing “an undeserved source of additional anxiety to complainant and respondent”.

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